The very sight of a bed bug scampering across the bed sheets is enough to ruin one’s morning. The panic that sets in can be so great that many people have ended up throwing out their mattresses, pillows, sofas and even beds to get rid of the pests. However, what if you only found one bed bug but no more than that? Is it a sign of a larger infestation or did an isolated bug just found its way to you?
This article will explore all the possibilities and what you can do to prevent an infestation. Here, you will learn about:
- Have I found a bed bug?
- Was the bed bug dead or alive?
- Where did you find it?
- Common signs of bed bug infestation
- What to do if you find signs of an infestation
- What to do if you don’t find signs of an infestation
Table of Contents
Have I Found a Bed Bug?
Before you go on a rampage, you first need to determine if the bug you found is actually a bed bug. If it is your first time looking at a bed bug in real life, it is quite possible that you may have made a mistake in identifying it.
There are several species of insects that look very similar to bed bugs, including fleas, spider beetles and book louse. However, to the trained eye, there are many small differences that separate them all from each other.
Adult bed bugs are one-fourth to three-eighths inches long, depending on whether they have fed or not. They are oval shaped and reddish brown in color. After a blood meal, bed bugs become rounded, swell in size and become redder in color. The younger bed bugs, called nymphs, are pale golden-white in color and are just 1 to 4 millimeter in size. Because of their translucent color, they are quite hard to see, but they become red after a blood meal. Bed bugs don’t have wings and cannot fly, but they can crawl very fast. Their eggs are very tiny and milky-white in color.
Was the Bed Bug Dead or Alive?
Once you have determined the insect you have found is indeed a bed bug, you need to consider a few things, like whether it was alive or dead. If the bed bug was dead and you may not have noted any other outward signs of infestation, it is possible it was just an errant bug. However, if it was still alive, the chances that you could have an infestation may increase, especially if it was a female.
A female bed bug can lay as many as 5 eggs each day and about 500 eggs in her lifetime. If the bed bug was alive and pregnant, it may have laid eggs in your home, before you found it.
Where Did You Find It?
As with all things, the location should be a chief concern. If you found one bed bug in shared public spaces, like schools, a doctor’s waiting room, your workplace or in public transportation, it is not considered a big deal. That is because the bed bug may have got there hitchhiking on a person’s clothes or their backpack.
Regardless of the number of beg bugs you find, it is important to determine whether the bed bug came as just a stowaway or if it is a sign of an infestation nearby. If you found the insect in your hotel, school, workplace or any other place where you spend a large amount of time, it is possible that some bed bugs may have attached themselves to you and you may have brought them home. You can begin by alerting your hotel, school, office staff of your discovery and they should schedule an inspection.
Additionally, do not bring home anything that was left at the location where you found a bed bug. Leave your stuff in the locker room or even your car, to minimize chances of spreading the infestation and don’t bring them inside the house until you have thoroughly checked them. Also, wash your clothes in hot water and place them in the dryer to kill any unwelcome passengers.
Common Signs of Bed Bug Infestation
There may be a chance that you picked up a lone bed bug from your school or office, without noticing it, and brought it into your bed. If it’s a female, it could have laid eggs. If that’s the case, you need to examine your surrounding for signs of infestation.
Bed Bug Casings: Bed bugs shed their exoskeleton five times in their life until they grow into fully mature adults. These casings remain intact and look like bed bugs, except they are empty. If you have done this and found one bed bug casing, it could indicate a larger infestation.
Feces: Bed bugs excrete dark brown or black digested blood where they congregated. If you see a lot of these specks in your bedding, it could point to an outbreak.
Eggs: Bed bugs eggs are milky-white and range in size from 1 to 2.5 millimeters. They are extremely difficult to spot, especially because they are hidden in small crevices, which means that you may need a magnifying glass.
What To Do If You Find Signs Of an Infestation
If you have seen one or more of the above things in your home, you need to move quickly. Here are some preliminary measures you should take:
- Wash all your clothes and bedding in hot water. Bed bugs cannot tolerate heat and water at 60 degrees Celsius can kill them.
- Vacuum your mattress, carpet, drapes, sofa, and walls to suck out bed bugs and their eggs from their hiding places. Throw away the vacuum bag ones done.
- Steam your mattress to kill bed bugs or to get them out in the open, so you can more easily eliminate them.
- Encase your pillow and mattress in tough and durable encasements that bed bugs cannot penetrate.
- Spread food-grade diatomaceous earth on your bed and areas where you suspect an outbreak has occurred. The desiccant will dry out the bugs’ exoskeleton on contact, killing them.
- There are several commercially available pesticides that can kill bed bugs. These pests are immune to many chemicals, so make sure that you buy potent ones. Also, exercise caution if you have children and pets at home.
What To Do If You Don’t Find Signs Of an Infestation
If you can’t find any more bed bugs or signs of an infestation, thank your lucky star and take some preventive measures.
- Encase your mattress and pillows in strong encasements so that bed bugs can’t get to you.
- Set bed bug traps and interceptors beneath the legs of your bed and other furniture to determine if you have a potential bed bug outbreak.
- Be extra careful when riding on the bus or staying at a hotel. Examine your hotel room’s mattress, bed sheets, and beds and keep your luggage away from walls.
- Keep your home free of clutter as it gives bed bugs fewer places to hide.
- Call a professional exterminator to do a deep inspection of your home.
Regardless of their number of bed bugs you find, the presence of these insects is quite alarming. If you have discovered a bed bug, use the above measures to prevent them from gaining a stronghold in your home. No matter what method you choose, just make sure it is safe for you and your family.